A stranger comes to town with a mysterious past. He’s looking for someone, a Japanese farmer named Komoko, but no one will tell him anything; it’s clear the name brings up dark memories. Some details about him come out: he’s a veteran of World War II, which had recently ended; he’s there to deliver a medal to the father of someone who died saving his life; and he can do karate.
It would be easy, accurate, and a little reductive to call Ritwik Ghatak “the poet of Partition.” But it’s inescapable. Ghatak’s films are obsessed with that existential trauma, even in something like previous Counter-Programming entry Ajantrik. Here is a guy who can make a love story about a man and his car, a sort of fart-filled Herbie, and still conjure up deeply-felt anxieties about colonialism and territorial integrity.